A leading senatorial candidate this week cried during a press conference she called to “clear her name” after allegations surfaced that she failed to declare a property in the US for many years.
She accused another candidate, running on the same coalition ticket, no less, of engineering the attack so that she could be dislodged from the top spot she had always occupied in poll surveys.
Another candidate seeking re-election was accused of being a wife-beater by another candidate. The accuser was a relative of the wife and, more importantly, spent a few years in the Senate before it was found that he had benefited from election fraud in 2007.
The wife subsequently came forward and denied that her husband, from whom she is estranged, was ever violent with her.
Yet another candidate saw his survey ratings slide after being badmouthed by the parents of his girlfriend, a movie star. The elders claimed the senator was ill-mannered and had seduced their daughter.
Finally, allegations of murder against a first-time senatorial candidate have resurfaced after three decades. The candidate, son of one of the most powerful officials at that time, is said to have shot a young man at a party.
These stories are what make Philippine elections what they are. Filipinos love the slime and scandal in the same way that we follow soap operas with hyperbolic plots and unrealistic lines.
Outside of the entertainment factor, how the candidates respond to such attacks, outside of the press releases, gives us a clue about their nature.
And this is just the national sphere.
In these last few days before the elections, we should expect more of this kind of circus. We must, however, refuse to let it define the results. Elections must be decided by track record, merit and integrity. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by negative propaganda in our laziness to get to the bottom of issues and scrutinize the candidates vying for our vote, then we would end up as losers, even though we did not run in the first place.